I assume you are talking about the original 802 from the early 80's. As good as they sound, the 802 Series III are even better and the 802 Nautilus beats them both. Progress.
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I owned B&W speakers for years. Only recently replaced a pair of 802 III's with a pair of Revel Ultima Studios. I sold the 802's to a friend with the Sound Anchors and he recently bought a pair of MIT Oracle speaker wires and I can tell you that these speakers are still one of the best values in the speaker market - used or new. The III's were a significant improvement over the II's and I can only imagine that they would be even more so over the vintage you are referring to. I also feel that solid state amps are a good match for these speakers unless you can afford reference level tube amps which will give sufficient power.
Give some credit to the rest of your gear, especially the Odyssey monoblocks! I've heard the newer B&W 803's go from simply awful with very expensive McIntosh gear, and also with a Rotel setup, then to something much more special with Pararound JC-1 monoblocks and also Cary Tube gear, which was amazing. It seemed that amp matching in particular is critical, and cost of the amp wasn't the deciding factor either. Not the best sounding speakers available for the price I have found, but when mated with proper electronics they sound so much better then they do at the typical dealer showroom it is stunning!
Would you mind giving your impressions of the Odyssey reference monoblocks?
Hi Jerry - Thank goodness I stumbled upon your review here! I might make an offer on this 802 Series 80 but am hesitant since many people regard them as not so good speakers. Would you kindly inform me as to why they are rated so poorly? And I am particularly curious about what kinds of music you listened to on them. I am curious about piano and massed violin reproduction both of which I am very picky about. I mostly listen to classical music.
I know no one has time for anything these days. I truly appreciate it!
I'll bet you're not losing your ear. I think the newer 800 diamond tweeters impart a brilliance/fatiguing nature that I can't deal with, so those older ones may not be so tough many of the times I heard them, but not all.
Those Mahlers I've heard and almost bought years ago but they are very different than 802s. I could listen to those a long time. I'd vote for the sound of those sealed woofers on the 802s as well.
I want to hear about the Odyessy mono-blocks as well. Most of what I have read is very positive.